CHENNAI: The Sterlite issue rocked the Assembly once again on Monday. Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam asserted that the plant in Thoothukudi had been closed once and for all. They also promised that the government would not allow its reopening even if Vedanta took legal recourse.
They also rejected Leader of Opposition MK Stalin’s demand for adopting a resolution on closing down the plant, saying that the State government had powers to take such a decision. During a discussion on the issue, the CM categorically said only those engaged in violence had been arrested and not the public. The government had sufficient evidence to prove that anti-social elements were involved in violence. There is no bar on the people agitating for their rights, as evidenced by the fact that the largest number of agitations had taken place only in Tamil Nadu.
During the zero hour, Stalin raised the issue and urged the CM to move a resolution that the plant would not be opened and the solatium for the families would be hiked to `1 crore. This amount could be given from `100 crore deposited by the Vedanta firm to the Thoothukudi Collector as per the orders of the Supreme Court in 2013. Further, police searches at houses of the public be stopped immediately, he said.
Palaniswami said the GO issued for closure of Sterlite was legally valid and that the government had cancelled the land allocation for expansion and disconnected power and water supply.
“The opposition parties are agitating. The AIADMK had also agitated when it was in opposition. The Leader of Opposition should ponder over whether we all carried clubs and petrol bombs when we staged agitations. Those who caused damage to public properties on May 22 were not general public, but anti-social elements. Such elements should not be encouraged. If it is done, it would become a big problem in the future,” the CM added.
When Stalin pointed out that the Assembly adopted resolutions on the jallikattu and NEET issues, Panneerselvam said that on these two issues, there was a need for the Central approval and hence, the resolutions were adopted. But the closure of Sterlite is within the powers of the State and there is no need for adopting a resolution. He said that the government had already filed a caveat petition before the SC anticipating any legal move from Vedanta.
Stalin recalled that in the past, when the plant was closed, Vedanta challenged the order and got court permission to reopen, the CM pointed out, “Now the plant has been closed as it has violated many conditions put forth for operating the plant.” Law Minister CVe Shanmugam said that even the legislation of 69 per cent reservation was challenged before the court.
Rs 1 crore
The amount of solatium sought for each of the Thoothukudi firing victims’ family by Opposition leader M K Stalin